CINCINNATI — A lawyer for an art gallery showing a controversial exhibit of photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe entered innocent pleas Monday for the gallery and its director to charges of pandering obscenity and child pornography.
A grand jury indicted the Contemporary Arts Center and director Dennis Barrie April 7 when the Mapplethorpe exhibit opened. The indictment concerns seven of the 175 photos in the exhibit, five of them based on homosexual themes and two showing nude children.
After lawyer H. Louis Sirkin entered the written pleas in Hamilton County Municipal Court, the case was assigned to Judge David Albanese and a pretrial hearing set for April 30.
At noon Monday, people were lined up to enter the gallery room where a display case holds the photographs prosecutors want removed. The five pictures are among 39 arranged in a glass-covered display case according to Mapplethorpe's instructions.
Mapplethorpe knew he was dying of AIDS when the exhibit was designed, said Amy Banister, director of communications for the gallery. She said it was an act of courage for him to show the lifestyle that killed not only him, but also others in the pictures. The photos do not glamorize or promote that lifestyle, but simply describe it, she said.
In the ninth day of a six-week run, the exhibit has been seen by 25,000 people, in contrast to a total attendance of about 12,000 people for a normal six-week exhibit.